CUMBERLAND: 2022 candidates answer our election questions
Decafnation asked this year’s candidates for public office to respond to three questions. We are publishing their responses by the jurisdictions in which they are a candidate.
Village of Cumberland
Candidates in 2022
One mayor and four councillors to be elected
Incumbent – Leslie Baird
Challenger – Vickey Brown
Incumbents – Jesse Ketler, Sean Sullivan
Challengers – Neil Borecky, Tanis Frame and Troy Therrien
Council candidate Tanis Frame did not respond to our questions
1. In the event that a new dangerous variant of the COVID virus emerges or if a new pandemic arises would you use your position as a civic leader to support federal and provincial public health orders and encourage others to do likewise?
Yes, I would continue to support Federal and Provincial public health orders.
Yes. I believe that the Provincial Government is acting on scientific data and in the best interests of the health of our residents. It is important that all of us assist in keeping our communities healthy in all the ways we can. People in elected positions have a particular responsibility to show leadership in these situations and other challenging times. When health or other emergencies occur it is vital that we proactively act in the interests of greater good and do what is needed to protect the vulnerable people in our communities.
FOR VILLAGE COUNCIL
Yes. I was the newly elected Chair of the CVRD when the pandemic hit. We promptly opened the Regional Emergency Operations Centre headquarters and I became the spokesperson for all things COVID for the region. At that time there were so many unknowns. We had just witnessed high fatalities and corresponding lockdowns in Italy and in New York they had begun to bring in freezer trucks to store the deceased COVID victims. It was a terrifying time, and during my first public announcement video, I could barely hold back my tears.
From all levels of government, the goal was to save lives! Unfortunately, I don’t think any level of our government was prepared for a pandemic, so mistakes were made; it was a very steep learning curve. Moving forward, we are much more aware of the mental health consequences of health measures like isolation and there are more structural changes occurring within Emergency Management BC and the Ministry of Health that will allow for better coordination.
However, COVID exposed the weaknesses in our emergency response, medical and governance systems and those issues are still needing to be addressed in order for us to be fully prepared for “the next one”.
As an elected official, I support the federal and provincial health guidelines. I follow, and encourage others to follow their direction, and the instructions from our local Emergency Operations center.
I support the federal and provincial public health orders. I feel the public health authorities have made the best decisions at the time, based upon scientific protocols and best practices developed over many years. It is less of a political issue and more of a public health issue, and as such, is best left in deferring to expert knowledge. I can also appreciate that such protocols are issued while trying to hit a moving target with many unknowns.
While I respect (but don’t necessarily always agree with) personal choices, in social and public settings, I feel the public health orders have been very well balanced in protecting our most vulnerable citizens. That being said, I am cognizant of the impact it has had on local businesses, particularly in the service industries. As a local government, I believe we have a duty to alleviate some of the economic distress where we can by being creative or flexible with temporary zoning measures, special events/permitting and supporting our local business groups.
Yes, Public Health Orders are based on the latest and best science available at the time they are issued. They should be supported at all levels of government. As a civic leader, a councillor’s first duty is to their community and to do the best they can to protect and support the health and safety of that community.
2. Do you support the Regional Growth Strategy as it’s currently written? In particular, do you support its theme to funnel new growth into already defined urban boundaries, leaving the rural areas as rural as possible? And, do you support not adding any settlement nodes until the Union Bay Estates and K’omoks First Nations developments in the Union Bay area are well underway?
Yes, I support the Regional Growth Strategy, I participated in many of the meetings during its development representing Cumberland`s views at the table. It’s an important tool for our planning staff to help guide development projects in the Village.
It is important to support its theme of funneling new growth into already defined urban boundaries, leaving the rural areas as rural as possible. We need our agricultural land to continue to provide local food products.
I support not adding any settlement nodes until the Union Bay Estates and K’omoks First Nations developments in the Union Bay area are well underway. The RGS was developed as a twenty-year guide to development in the Comox Valley.
Yes! Regional Growth Strategies (and OCP’s for that matter) are extremely important policy documents that are developed with considerable public consultation and thus represent goals and wishes of the community. They are also critical tools to control urban sprawl and retain wild and natural spaces. In the current context of intense demand for housing, dramatic weather events and climate change this planning is more important than ever. It is up to elected officials to follow these documents as closely as possible and when priorities change to consult the public to get thorough input on any updates.
I also agree with waiting for the build-out of Union Bay and K’omoks before considering new growth nodes. We will want to ensure we understand the impacts of these developments before deciding on additional nodes.
Yes. The RGS is a very important document, where the communities come together to decide what our collective future will look like. While it mainly states where growth should or should not occur, it simultaneously contemplates many other important aspects of our lives including climate, food systems and transportation.
The original RGS was mandated by the Province in 2008 and although it had a lot of community support, I don’t think it had a lot of political support and was defunded in the previous term. However, with all the challenges we are facing, it is more important than ever to have a good strategy based on smart growth principles that include compact, walkable and sustainable development.
There are so many reasons for density over sprawl but primarily, it is cheaper (we can use existing roads and utilities instead of creating new ones) and it is more environmentally friendly (smaller footprint and preservation of our
wilderness). In Cumberland, apartment buildings are controversial because it changes the character of the street but it is either up or out … and if we don’t densify then we will spread out, cutting down more forest. We can’t shirk our responsibility with the housing crisis. We have to make these tough decisions.
The Regional Growth Strategy helps to protect our rural areas and is a key document in preventing urban sprawl. I support urban density to help accommodate more housing, and the RGS to protect the Valley’s beautiful rural landscapes. I also support extensive consultation with K’omoks First Nation in every stage of development.
I do support the Regional Growth Strategy. One charming characteristic of Cumberland, and of the Comox Valley in general, is that we have defined towns instead of the general sprawl that has overtaken so many other communities on the Island.
I’m a strong advocate of preserving existing ALR’s, primarily for the food security aspect, although it has a side benefit of community aesthetics as well. I advocate not adding any additional settlement nodes until Union Bay Estates and K’omoks First Nations developments are added.
A practical aspect of avoiding large sprawling communities is the added cost that such a development style accrues over time in servicing. By defining urban growth strategies, it makes economic sense from the viewpoint of placing less of an undue burden on future ratepayers. (More pipe, more problems.)
That being said, the idea of having smaller, localized community developments that have a marginal footprint is a concept that intrigues me, such as a tiny home-style development or similar thinking that can provide truly affordable housing.
Yes, the current strategy of keeping growth confined within existing urban boundaries makes sense from both an economic and climate change point of view. Here in Cumberland that means more in-fill housing, ADUs and multifamily developments, and less sprawl into our neighboring forests. We should see how the Union Bay and KFN developments affect the region before deciding on adding more settlement nodes.
3. Do you believe it is the responsibility of local governments to take climate change-focused actions and to consider how to minimize carbon emissions from municipal operations and facilities in all of the council deliberations?
Yes, it is clear to me that local governments can lead in implementing climate-change policies. For example, during our strategic planning and priorities process, the council prioritizes measures that enhance our environment and mitigate climate change. We invested in an unlimited kitchen waste and organics collection program and adopted a single-use plastics ban. The Village is improving its EV-readiness by purchasing electric car charging points and successfully working with the Regional District to install more. Cumberland has also been a Blue Community member for over 10 years.
Yes! Climate change considerations should be integrated into all decisions made at the local government and it’s important that we lobby higher levels of government for real change (and funding) as well. Transportation and the related infrastructure and facilities are the top 2 areas where we can affect the largest impact so we should be starting there. There is much that can be done to reduce our GHG emissions at a municipal level via planning for walkable communities, building active travel infrastructure, encouraging multifamily and missing middle housing to densify neighborhoods, requiring site adaptive development, encouraging solar power and electric heat pumps and so on. I believe it is incumbent upon all of us to make changes in our behaviour now that we are aware of the dramatic impact that we are having on the climate. Municipalities are a key component in that change; we can provide leadership, demonstrate an ability to adapt and encourage our residents to do the same by providing incentives and information.
Absolutely! Climate action is everyone’s responsibility but most importantly we need our governments to lead on climate. There are broader energy policy considerations at the Federal level (moving away from being a Petro-state) and Provincial level (decreasing LNG dependence) that would help to guide local government decisions.
At the CVRD, we made Climate Crisis and Environmental Stewardship and Protection one of our four Strategic Drivers at the beginning of our term. This means that any reports coming from staff now take into consideration the implications from a climate perspective. However, there is all sorts of data including life-cycle analysis of buildings, vehicles and equipment that we don’t currently have access to, but that would allow us to make better, more informed decisions about how to implement meaningful GHG reduction.
At the regional level, we are moving from consideration of solely our own operating emissions to community-wide emissions and we will soon have a new, real-time dashboard to keep us on track. In Cumberland we are working with youth to implement the Green New Deal. One thing is certain, we need to coordinate and increase our efforts if we are going to slow the climate chaos.
I believe it is the responsibility of all levels of government to take climate change action. Cumberland’s OCP and Strategic Priorities are all heavily embedded with climate change directives. Our staff is very aware of council’s policies and views every aspect of our business with a climate change adaptive lens.
This is a complex issue that realistically has to be approached at a national/international level for maximum efficacy. The strategy to shift our energy infrastructure will require immense amounts of capital investment and innovation. With that in mind, I think that a local government has a duty to be stewards of its own environment, so I support climate change-focused initiatives. Like it or not, we still live in a petroleum-based economy.
However, local outside-of-the box thinking is required to tackle climate change. I grew up in an era without the internet or personal computers and witnessed first-hand how a sea-change in technology can rapidly change the world and promote a new kind of economic growth. This cornucopian view of technology and science is not enough though: local governments can act as an example of how to do things differently by fostering strong partnerships and cooperation among community groups.
I feel Cumberland has been an outstanding example to other communities and larger governments of how citizens can work together to preserve common green space and build climate resilience into our surroundings. Where it pertains to municipal operations and facilities, I agree that all options should be explored with a green lens, where practical.
Local governments play vital roles in regulating building/construction and transport, both large factors in our carbon emissions. In Cumberland, we can start by implementing BC Energy Step Codes, and banning natural gas in new builds. We can encourage more bike and ebike use by building better bike lane infrastructure and providing a safe route to Courtenay. We should have a car share network in the valley.
WHERE AND WHEN TO VOTE
General Voting Day is Saturday, Oct. 15 for all local government positions.
Comox Valley Regional District
General Voting Day and advance voting take place at the CVRD building in Courtenay from 8 am to 8 pm.
Go to this link for General Voting Day locations in the three Electoral Areas.
Additional voting takes place on Oct. 6 from 9 am to 12 pm on Denman Island and on Oct. 6 from 2 pm to 5 pm on Hornby Island
Advance Voting begins on Wednesday October 5, 2022, 8 am to 8 pm at the Native Sons Hall, and again on Wednesday October 12, 2022, 8 am to 8 pm at the Florence Filberg Centre.
General Voting Day, Saturday, October 15, 2022, 8 am to 8 pm at the Queneesh Elementary School, and at the Florence Filberg Centre.
Advance voting begins Wednesday, October 5 from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. at the Comox Community Centre, and on Saturday, October 8 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Genoa Sail Building at Comox Marina, and again on Monday, October 10 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Genoa Sail Building at Comox Marina, and on Wednesday, October 12 from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. at the Comox Community Centre.
General Voting Day runs from 8 am to 8 pm on Oct. 15 at the Comox Community Centre.
All voting in the Village of Cumberland takes place from 8 am to 8 pm at the Cumberland Cultural Centre. Advance voting takes place on Oct. 5 and Oct. 12.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
It was weird. But when the sun rose on Oct. 16, Comox Valley voters had made it clear they liked the direction charted by our local governments. In the municipalities, they elected all but two incumbents. In most races, the vote was a definite pat on the back for a job well done.
Mayor Bob Wells and all Courtenay incumbent councillors have been re-elected. Evan Jolicoeur has also been elected. Manno Theos has lost his seat.
Jonathan Kerr, Jenn Meilleur, Steve Blacklock, Chris Haslett, Ken Grant and Maureen Swift have been elected in Comox.
Vickey Brown has been elected mayor in Cumberland, defeating long-time mayor and councillor Leslie Baird.
Voting down -20.6% in Courtenay, -22.3% in Comox and -50.9% in Cumberland.
Full results with Electoral Areas A, B and C, school board and Islands Trust results in the morning.
Daniel Arbour in Area A and Edwin Grieve in Area C won by wide margins. Richard Hardy defeated Arzeena Hamir by 23 votes.
Shannon Aldinger topped the polls in races for SD71 school trustees.
Click the headline on this page for complete results and voter turnout.
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